Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Late present

The moon brought me a gift
last night, before the
solstice rain moved in.
I left the crispness
of my northern woods
to walk the dew off grass again
with you. It’s late, the
house lights dark, the night
all midsummer lushness,
bell buoys ringing softly.
We know the way by feel
across the lawns and
down the hill to home,
but cannot pass the garden
with its flat topped walls.
We sit, shoulders touching,
stone still warm, and let our
breath find a rhythm together
after days apart. Then on
our way again, to soft
lamp light on varnished
wood, and pick up where
we were before the first
mosquito bit.
This morning I still feel
your hands, your skin on mine,
and smile, not caring.

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And Peggy Sue

They called him Crane, not Ichabod
but the bird. I’d see him
Saturday nights at the tap room
where he won big money
throwing darts, bony fingers
on a different circuit
from the rest of him as he drank.
Never pretty in daylight — when
drunk, his angles seemed smoothed
out, almost vaselined. The dim lit
corners left the knife scar
on his neck alone, a dull flash
of on-off michelob blinking onto his baldness.
On this night college boys found the bar,
and while the rest of his townie pals
shunned the clueless preps, he
fought them at the dart board one by
one, with his dead aim, metal sinking
into cork almost soundless, like a perfect
dive knifes into chlorined blue. Always
left them broke, their egos bleeding out.
The drunker he got, the better he played,
groove sunk cheeks split by a grin.
He took them all, keening
Peggy Sue softly
between each throw.


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sideways view

I can see you, all of you
from where I sit
a few thousand miles
up or out, take your pick
your lives are match flares
as we pass away from light
small bursts of color
flaming out, why green
or red or blue tonight?
my whims connect the dots
entertaining tales that may be
lies or just bad guesses
we know you watch us, singing
songs and writing maudlin verse
to our cold rocks and shifting shape
light breathed in and out to wax and wane
you could not know that we are joined
silly schizoid world, for you
it’s either his billboard smile
oddly neutered, hardly male
or country place of, me
who lives to hunt, a
woman with a wicked bow
one would never see us as
a pair much less coupled by
love up on our pockmarked
fluorescent lighted sphere
sling shot surfing
to the beat of star pulsed
fragments of forgotten gravities
we have a running bet to see
which way you leap as
we sail by silvering the clouds
our tote board running neck and neck
for half a million years

_______________________________
Doug Anderson’s weekly writing workshop has us all digging deep, and laughing a lot. the prompt: a myth from other lips.


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stepping onto grass

a sip of camomile
to soften nerves
a quiet moment on the porch
observing fire flies
punctuate the trees
travels through cloud rain
to touch a friend
like me a score or so ago
waiting for the sun
to shiver start the day
mind’s eye reaching for
the girl child of my heart
lace tokening her gaze
unruly brother
brought to sudden tears
on catching sight
of unanticipated beauty
tethered by her father’s arm
last moments as the impish girl
who stood upon his feet to waltz
then stepping firmly
onto sea scent grass
to speak her promises
and dance, love wrapped
as woman on her way

________________________________
twenty three years on, that lovely day still resonates.


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for the taking

perhaps the stars
hold memories
diamond pinholes
punched in winter black
life stretched
across infinity
expanding overhead
even as my focus
might be squeezing in
and only looking back
a tempting counterweight
to shrinking time
well nuts to that
I’ll take the milky way
with thanks
refusing blinkered days
or thoughts
and will not shut
all possibility away
this heart and soul
are slated to remain
open for business
indefinitely


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The Night Ship

There are times the moon
invades my room,
as opal fingered fog
touching eyes and skin.
And as the night sets sail
around me into sleep
I sense joyous dreams
that dance just out of reach,
or sober trailers on the fringe.
Unwelcome memories to push away
tear welded flashes
from the day just lived, but
not now not yet, as
life’s flow starts
to telescope.
Slow, sinuous, twisting
to its vanishing point.
Each night explodes with color
and a shadow life
of longing,
whose breadcrumb bursts
stay with me
as the sun returns,
in counterpoint
to unquiet rest.

sunset in a small town


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passing through town to home

the day has changed from bright
to scrims of clouds washed sky blue pink
backdrop to summer quiet playing fields

further south a sidelong glance
at underbelly clouds thick swathed peach red
flying over marshes at the river curve

in town the day is winding down
cars and people move intent on fuel
and food and rest for it’s been hot

and by the time the single light releases me
to turn due west deep pink to purple blasts
are shouting over pines and spires

I steal a look into our cafe’s glow
observe last patient walks for dogs
church supper signs and flags

the colors quickly leach away
though day’s end light remains enough
to cover hilly rattle roads

then rollercoasting mountain arms
a final sling to home beside the pond
in time to greet a rising moon

_____________________________________
even though going through town takes longer, I love to observe and watch along the way. the other night the stages of what proved to be a spectacular sunset were a marvelous backdrop to my small country town in the middle of summer.

beauty of white against dark green


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litany

what don’t I remember?
my collier brother brain
hoards words and time
with colors joining hands
to sing their song

I don’t remember
any moment spent
without a color wash
intensity of thought

I don’t remember
understanding those who hate
preferring to destroy
instead of build

I don’t remember
living days or nights
without a music counterpoint
embers into torches lighting memory

I don’t remember
sunsets painted on the undersides
of clouds or nature come to flower
without feeling joy almost to tears

______________________________________
A leftover prompt, from Day 29. Things remembered, and what they weren’t.


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morning as palindrome

as words begin their dance
glancing out at spring
sitting down at last to write
confident of its receipt
asking for serenity
another day a perfect gift
reflecting and give thanks
I close my eyes to sip
hand cupping warmth
coffee and the ritual of smell
checking lilacs apple buds
birds scatter at the noise
opening the outer door
woods featureless and flat
moving softly hug the quiet
slightly damp delight
one slipper at a time
morning work for dogs
stretch sloughing sleep’s cement
a feather shawl to float away
night journey remnants linger
as clouds replace the sun
light diffuse and gray
dog nose to tail against my arm
first awareness as I wake
a dream departs

________________________________
Day 28. I loved writing this. The prompt was for an event or story in reverse.


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night lit

my woods are hung
with lamp lit moonlight
shallow beaver wash
turned into opal pools
picked out by
beams that launched
diffused through
vapor rings we know
are ice but touch
us softly

__________________________
Day 22. We have just had a full moon, fitting for the week of Earth Day.